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28 February 1973 





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CONTENTS 

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1. . INTRODUCTION 1 

2. TECHNICAL DISCUSSION 2 

3. ' STATEMENT OF WORK • 5 

4. PRICE AND CONTRACTUAL INFORMATION 8 

5. PERSONNEL 10 

REFERENCES 12 

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1. INTRODUCTION 

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In a previous proposal, it was stated that the relationship between 
electroreceptors in the pattern recognition process of electric fish would 
be studied. In a Midterm Report of September 1972, the phasic tuberous 
asynchronic electroreceptors and the synchronous tonic ampullary electro - 
receptors of the Sternarchus albifrons , a freshwater South American weak 
electric fish were described. The tonic asynchronous ampullary electro- 
receptors of the same fish species were described previously. Measure- 
ments were made and reported. 

The studies on Gymnarchus niloticus , a freshwater African weak 
electric fish, were continued, as were studies of the effect of different 
anaesthetics on the electrical activity of electric fishes. The effect of D- 
tubocurarine and the countereffect of neostigmine on Sternarchus albifrons 
were also assessed: 

Three mormyrids (Gnathonemus petersii ) were obtained, a fresh- 
water African weak electric fish supposed to be the most intelligent fish 
(sic). The brain/body weight.ratio is close to that of human beings. Pre- 
viously, one fish of this species was trained to jump through a circle over 
the water in order to get its food. Studies of the electric activity of these 
fishes will yield added information on pattern recognition ability of electric 
fishes. Based upon data generated by these studies, we now propose to 
generate design and test concepts for physical analogs of the eiectroreceptors 
of electric fish to be used in subsequent studies of underwater object detection, 
identification, and position. These sensor analog simulation tests will be 
planned to be performed in a plastic water tank of 18 feet diameter. 


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2. TECHNICAL DISCUSSION 


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From previous and ongoing investigations, it was determined that 
Sternarchus albifrons , a South American freshwater high-frequency weak 
electric fish, has three kinds of electroreceptors: 

1. synchronous tonic ampullary electric sensors 

2. asynchronous tonic ampullary electric sensors 

3. asynchronous phasic tuberous electric sensors 

Microelectrode recordings were made from these receptors. The fish was 
anaesthetized with tricaine me thane sulfonate (Finquel "Ayerst") and cura- 
rized with D-tubocurarine. Subsequently, neostigmine was used to counter- 
act the long-term effect of curare. A search for an anaesthetic that will 
not affect the frequency and amplitude of the electric signals emitted by 
electric fish has been made. This study is in progress and preliminary 
results indicate that thiopental sodium may not affect the electric signal of 
Sternarchus albifrons . Both ampullary and tuberous electric sensors are 
autorhythmic. Two out of three kinds of electric sensors act independently 
of the main electric organ. This means that we deal with three transmitting 
systems: a main organ and two secondary represented by the autorhythmic 
activity. There are also three kinds of electroreceptors, two of which are 
transmitters and receptors at the same time, and each of them may have 
some finer subdivisions with regard to sensitivity, amplitude, frequency, 
latency and habituation. 

These electroreceoptors are part of the "lateralis system" of the fish 
and the other organs related to this system like the lateral line receptors 
and the free neuromasts are certainly playing an important role in pattern 
recognition. 


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The difference between the lateral line sensory receptors and free 
neuromasts is that the first ones arc connected to a common lateral line 
canaVand the last ones not. With all the research devoted to both of these 
sensory receptors, the difference in the role of the one or the other kind 
of sensory receptor has not been clarified. However, both sensors are 
related to water displacement, the fish’s own movement, schooling be- 
havior, and avoidance of objects or enemies. 

The electric fish's other ’’lateralis system” sensory organs that 
the electric organs have not received too much attention. | 

demonstrated that on one and the same elasmobranch, 
Negaprion brevirostris , (Lemon shark), two kinds of ampullary sensory 
organs exist: one that is sensitive to water displacement, and another one 
that is sensitive to electric stimuli. Anatomically they looked very much 
the same, but not biochemically. This indicates the complexity of the 
sensory system of certain fishes to provide the required functions required 
for navigation, location of prey, identification of enemies, social interaction 
in the same species, and communication. . 

Gymnarchus niloticus , an African freshwater medium-frequency 
weak electric fish, has one ampullary type of electric sensors and two 
tuberous types of electric sensors. These electric sensors have to be in- 
vestigated in relation to their autorhythmicity and their role in navigation 
and object location. Previous studies have demonstrated the ability of 
Gymnarchus niloticus to communicate with members of their same species. 

Gnathonemus petersii , an African freshwater low-frequency mor- 
myrid electric fish, can be obtained and study is planned after the usual 
stabilization stage. Studies by Agalides and others of electric fish sensory 
systems as cited above provided a basis for describing the physical analogs 


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of tonic ampullar y elcctroreceptors and of phasic tuberous electroreceptors 
in a midterm report. ^ Continuation of this work can establish physical 
analogs for other electroreceptors and sensory receptors of the "lateralis 
system" of electric fishes. 

Microelectrode recordings, histology, light microscopy, electro- 
microscopy, and scanning electronmicroscopy can be used to clarify the 
establishment of the physical analogs. 

Some studies on the s ensitivit y threshold of electric fishes to electric 
stimuli were made by 

This proposed study intends to extend this work. An extensive study 
of the sensitivity of different species of electric fishes to electric stimuli 
in the presence of noise and without noise will be made to find out which of 
the different types of sensory systems of the different species is most ef- 
fective in locating and identifying objects underwater. 

For these experiments, we will use an instrumented pool facility. 

The distance at which an electric fish can identify moving and stationary . 
objects and to communicate with specimens of its own species can be de- 
ducted from the distance, the composition and size of the objects presented 
to the subject and of the distance of back-playing electrodes and the applied 
attenuation to the signal. By adding specific kinds and amplitudes of noise, 
we will be able to find out how well the fish can extract the signal from 
noise. 


Having all of the previously mentioned data, we can proceed to the 
establishment of an underwater pattern recognition diagram. The established 
physical analogs of electric sensors and cross correlation will be proposed 
as a means for identifying objects. 




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3. STATEMENT OF WORK 


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' 7 will provide 

the personnel, services and material necessary to conduct an investigation 
of electric fishes. The tasks for Phase I and Phase n will be performed 

as outlined below. ^ 

PHASE I ‘‘ * 

1 Investigate the ability of freshwater electric fishes to recognize 
5SS™ ' under wate/and how effectively they can dUfererto^ 
between different parameters when navigating. It is proposed 
to use three or four of the following kinds of freshwater weak 

electric fishes: 

a. Sternarc hus albifrons , high signal rate electric fish 
with its frequency imiuenced only by change int 
tank water temperature; region of origin - subtropical, 
tropical and equatorial South America. 

h. Gvmnarchus niloticus, medium fixed signal rate electric 
fish with its frequency not influenced by change of tank 
water temperature; region of origin - subtiopical, 
tropical, and equatorial Africa. 

c. Gvmnotus carapo, variable medium signal rate electric 
• fish, region ol Or igin - subtropical, tropical, and 
equatorial South America. 

d. Gnathonemus petersii , a variable low 

fish of the mormynoae family;^ region of ori 0 
tropical, tropical, and equatorial Africa. 

2 Microelectrode recording, histology, light 

microscopy and scanning electromicroscopy wi be used as ne 
cessary to elucidate and establish the interrelation of electric 

receptors. 

3. Report. A report of the six months’ study will be submitted 

at the end of Phase I. 


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PHASE n 


A. 


The threshold of electric signal stimuli eliciting a behavioral 
response m electric fishes will be investigated for: 

a * [ ishe ' s own signal recorded on magnetic tape and played 
back and attenuated. * 


b. same species but another subject fish's electric signal 
recorded on magnetic tape, played back and attenuated 

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c. sinusoidal electric signal with same repetition rate as 
the fish's own signal or slightly changed and attenuated 

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d. signals as in (1) and (2) but with a noise source like 
gaussian noise and varying amplitude will be added 

through another pair of electrodes in the same water 
tank. 


T j 1 fo e , expe f iments be carried out in a special round tank 
of 18 feet diameter by 2 feet high and placed in a special tank 
facility. 

2. From all these results, the distance will be calculated at which 

an electric fish could detect its own or another electric signal 
considering the attenuation, the distortion of the signal in water 
and eventually the added noise. ’ 

3. Physical analogs will be established for some of the electro- 
receptors, displacement receptors, and other lateral line 
type of receptors. 

4. A diagram for an underwater pattern recognition simulation 
of the electric fish’s electric sensors system, using their 
physical analogs and a special cross -correlation data pro- 
cessing, will be submitted. A special instrumented under- 
water pool facility and computer simulating equipment will 
be considered for use for this proposition. 

5. Reports. Financial monthly reports will be submitted. A 
final leport ■will be furnished one year after contract award. 

The schedule for the proposed research is outlined in Fig. 5 
with the estimated time for carrying out each phase. 


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4. PRICE AND CONTRACTUAL INFORMATION 

| suggests that the proposed program 

be conducted over a one -year period under a cost-plus fixed-fee contract. 
The estimated costs for this program are shown at the end of this section. 

The labor costs used in this proposal are based upon the current 
average rate of the level of personnel expected to be employed in the pro- 
posed effort. No premium for direct overtime expense has been included 
in this proposal. 

The overhead rate used in this proposal is provisional and con- 
sists of all ] indirect costs and is adjusted for 

assumed unallowable costs. Overhead rates will be adjusted at the end 
of the fiscal year j to actual costs excluding 

disallowables, as determined by Government audit. 

I is under the audit cognizance of the 
Defense Contract Audit Agency, ^ 

Unless previously withdrawn in writing, this proposal will remain 
valid for ninety days from the date on the cover. 


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estimated cost for a twelve -month program 


Man-Hours 

PERSONNEL COSTS 
Scientist 41 
Scientist 23 *• 

Scientist 12 
Technical Typist 
OVERHEAD @ j 
FRINGE BENEFITS @ 1 

TRAVEL: Phase I 
Phase n 

MATERIALS: Phase I 
Phase n 

TOTAL DIRECT COST & OVERHEAD 
GENERAL & ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSE @ 
TOTAL ESTIMATED COST 
FIXED FEE 

TOTAL ESTIMATED COST PLUS FIXED FEE 


1210 

40 

100 

96 


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